The hankies were whipped out for the end of an era at the Jil Sander f/w '12 show at Milan Fashion Week, showcasing the curtain call on Raf Simon's 7 year term as creative director of the fashion house. Simons redeemed the label back in 2005, when it's future appeared hazy. Simons proved successful in his appointed task of allowing the line to develop yet conserve it's original minimalistic streak. So much so, that his final show for the company earned him a standing ovation as led by Anna Wintour.
The scene was a reflection of Simons' work - simple, artistic and with a hint of femininity. The immaculate white runway bared glass-enclosed floral arrangements propped up by bases that complementing the room's feng shui, that the band of models weaved through. Sonic Youth's eerily transfixing cover of the Carpenter's 1969 hit, "Superstar", superseded by the aptly-chosen Smashing Pumpkin's "Tonight, Tonight" filled the room, demanding the crowd's emotions and reverence. The lyric "You can never ever leave without leaving a piece of youth" holds relevance and determines the carefully chosen soundtrack as more than just a runway playlist.
Simon's final offering for the Jil Sander name began as it meant to go on. From the soft on-trend romantic pastel-hued pioneer ensemble to the contrasting black dresses towards the show's close, the entire collection was spot on. Not a hair out of place, not a hemline that could have been altered. Simons achieved his zenith with ease, this was not a collection that gave off the opinion of "try hard", that the creative director had given in to OCD qualities in order to get every detail just so. It was natural and believable, following in the footsteps of all of the past collections from the man who had taken the moribund label under his wing and revived it, without disregarding it's original philosophies.
Structures were soft, retained form as opposed to strident silhouettes. The boxy, male tailored coats were without any sort of fastening assests and took on framework of capes. Many of the models clutched their coats to their chests in a modest and respectful way, whether that was the intention or not. Alongside caped outerwear were dresses that glided over the model's figure, in such a manner that didn't seem to be asphyxiating the physiques nor hang off too loosely. The nude colours, materials (including silk) and unstructured shapes insinuated images of 1930's women's lingerie and nightwear. Silky nightdresses and slips that clung fittingly to the body with a sensual modesty about them. The soft materials of the coats lead me to believe that perhaps the attire of the bedroom was indeed the inspiration for this collection, a la Stella McCartney's s/s '12 pyjama luxe that is beginning to see the initial stirring of a trend following.
The harsher feedback spiralling ending to "Superstar" coincided with a similarly harsh contrast in the clothing. Black ensembles began to amalgamate and interrupt the pale, feminine colours, as would be expected from a fall/winter collection! These blacks gave way to bursts of reds and more daring colours and fabrics. PVC, leather, cable knit and metallic elements adorned dresses. Footwear was pointed and, too, included this metallic disposition. On the beauty front, low key was the word: lacquered, side-parted ponytails hung down the backs of the models with a neutral face bar a soft rose-pink lip.
The show's finale, roused up further by the climatic ending of "Tonight, Tonight", brought spectators and models, alike, to tears. Simons, who also couldn't conceal his emotions, met his much deserved standing ovation and praise with a few waves and kisses and dipped backstage again. And as I sit here rounding off this post, refreshing my memory through my profuse scrawled notes and replaying the video in it's entirety for what seems like the millionth time, I can't help but share the emotions as the audience in Milan last week, as if I was among them celebrating the work of an artist and, at the same time, mourning the end of his career with his patron.
Can someone please pass the Kleenex?